One thing is practically certain at this stage: SFR will not be in the fold of Altice for eternity. In fact, it is even desirable for the group that a sale takes place quickly. Altice has in fact accumulated an impressive debt of more than 60 billion euros – with installments of several billion euros that Patrick Drahi's group will quickly have to repay.
All against a backdrop of declining economic activity and scandals in Portugal which are tarnishing the reputation of the entrepreneur's inner circle, including Armando Pereira, his right-hand man. Very concretely, executives are accused of having embezzled money while the group was in a dynamic of rapid expansion.
Free and Bouygues were approached this summer around of a possible sale of SFR
In this context, Altice must therefore provide guarantees capable of restoring confidence. SFR, purchased for more than 13 billion euros following a real soap opera, is one of the assets whose sale could facilitate an exit from the crisis.
The problem is that SFR is also saddled with debt and losing customers, which makes any acquisition or merger potentially more expensive. And that, obviously, competing operators in France are not all in the most favorable period to begin consolidation of the sector, which has been desired for years by several managers.
Orange, in particular, is involved in several large-scale projects, including the deployment of fiber in France and a merger with MásMóvil in Spain which is awaiting a green light from Brussels. But what about the others, notably Iliad (Free) and Bouygues Telecom? According to La Tribune, consultations did take place during the summer, with offers whose amount was not revealed.
But at this stage that would not have achieved much. Neither group made any comments. But on the one hand, Free (Iliad) probably does not want to be burdened with an operator in difficulty, even though it is banking more and more on its infrastructure. clean – and that other Altice assets interest him. Bouygues, for its part, probably does not have the backbone strong enough to take on such a merger project.
Orange, for its part, is already, as we told you, under surveillance of Brussels after the start of its merger with MásMóvil in Spain. It is a safe bet that the competition authorities in France and at the European level would refuse such a marriage which would give Orange a market share in France greater than 50%.
From there, several scenarios can arise. clear. On the one hand, it is possible that Orange will end up investing alongside other operators retaining the SFR brand and company as an independent and separate entity… with or not the participation of a new actor, in France or based abroad.